Opening a business is challenging in normal times, so opening a business during a pandemic must be even more so. The Double Bull, a new taproom and arcade in Peabody’s Northshore Mall, opened last May and has been going strong ever since—which is a remarkable achievement, as it opened its doors before mask requirements and other dining restrictions were eased across Massachusetts. But The Double Bull, owned and operated by the Webber Restaurant Group, saw these circumstances not simply as a challenge but an opportunity to innovate.
Building out a new restaurant during a pandemic has its silver linings. The folks behind The Double Bull had the chance to start from scratch after their previous venture, Bancroft & Co., a steakhouse and cocktail lounge, closed its doors.
The team was able to reconsider what the space needed, and how to use that space to its best potential. The Double Bull is one part upscale pub and one part arcade, where diners can enjoy a delicious burger or taco trio, sample from a truly impressive beer list, and play a few rounds of pinball or Bubble Hockey.
For anyone who grew up in the 1980s, the game selection alone is a nostalgia bonanza. But The Double Bull isn’t just about the nostalgia factor. It’s about creating an inviting environment for all their customers. General manager Lisa Haney calls The Double Bull “family friendly,” including details beyond making the space comfortable for customers with children: Allergies are a major consideration, and staying gluten-free is important, too. Even better, the kids’ menu focuses on options beyond the normal throwaway entrées restaurants usually offer —for instance, a kids’ portion of rotisserie chicken with seasonal sides. The Double Bull does serve chicken fingers, but as Haney points out, “You don’t want chicken fingers every day.”
For adults, or for adults whose young ones have good appetites and grown-up tastes, the rest of the menu is made up of green bowls, like the Sweet + Green—a mesclun salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese, poached pear, green apple, toasted pepitas —to bacon and fig pizzas, chili burgers with pickled jalapeños, cubano sandwiches, and an assortment of soft tacos, like spice-crusted tuna and carnitas, a classic. (The carnitas are particularly good.) Each dish fits nicely into The Double Bull’s concept: relaxed, unpretentious good times.
Tasty as the food is, it’s the drinks and gaming that really help the restaurant stand out, whether you’re playing with a couple pals or participating in the New England Pinball or Minute Man Fall Dart Leagues. If you’re eating on the outdoor patio—and thanks to the heating, from the lamps to the seat pads, you’ll probably be able to enjoy that patio well into November—stroll over to the attached cornhole platforms while you’re waiting on your food. If you’re eating inside, play a round of darts, or visit the upstairs arcade area to squeeze in some pinball, and of course there’s that Bubble Hockey table. You might stop by just for the games. If you do, there’s a bar by the arcade. Break out the Jenga, or any of the other table games stored away by the upstairs bar, and have a cocktail.
Alternatively, have a beer. Not to overemphasize the beer list, but the selection really is impossible to overlook: Apart from ex-white whale beers like Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine and Maine Beer Company’s Lunch, plus a handful of northeastern imports from Upper Pass, Proclamation Ale, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Banded, and Finback, the menu is also loaded with local brews from Old Planters, Channel Marker, Untold, Great Marsh, True North, and Honest Weight. There’s something on here from seemingly everywhere, and that reflects The Double Bull’s mission: to offer something for every diner, all while giving their patrons room to unwind in a space that’s as laid back as it is buzzing, made specifically for the time we’re living in—and hopefully beyond.
210 Andover St, Peabody, 978-817-3670, thedoublebull.com